It's difficult to determine who, exactly, this collection is aimed at. Obviously there's the hardcore faithful; those who will purchase anything that has the Marvel logo emblazoned upon it, and now there is that growing audience, the casual fan, that kind of fan that although not incredible knowledgable about any particular hero or their history is a fan of what the character represents over all. This collection, put out under the Marvel Knights logo in itself an branch of Marvel comics that ties now ties into main canon Marvel storylines.
Not that this has any impact here with this series. The premise here is simply taking already preexisting stories from within the Marvel Universe and instead, of having them play out on the page, we are treated to having them in quasi motion. "Motion comics" are a trend that seems to be a market that Marvel are trying to corner, although I'm sure the majority of fans don't know why. Rather than having the lavished detail that permeates from the majority of DC animated releases, such as the recent, and wonderful, Dark Knight Returns Part One and Two, we are instead treated to slight movement from characters, awkward facial animations, and actors who are doing the best they can with such limited resources. The action is staid and slow and the dialogue, although taken directly from the comic, and so is a direct reflection of the written word of prolific writers such as Warren Ellis and, of course, Joss Whedon, loses the pacing that would have made them work so well on the page in the first place.
Sure, there's a number of heroes here in which to try and get behind ranging from the more popular and familiar Iron Man and Thor, all the way through to the Black Panther and Spider-Woman, and that's before you factor in the sheer amount of Astonishing X-Men that rounds out the package. And so I come back around to my initial ponderings: just who is this type of animation for? Has it been done quickly and cheaply in order to ensure:
a) quick turn around?
b) an even quicker buck from those willing to buy anything Marvel?
c) perhaps a mixture of A and B?
It's not that the animation is particularly bad, per se. It's just that it's not good. Motion Comics are not the future of this medium, and the sooner Marvel attempt to create an expanded set of releases in the same vein as DC has with their successful animated series (which, incidentally, are also based on a number of their more popular pre existing stories) the better. This style of animation is perfectly suited as a pre vis, reference for the pre production of movies, they make a perfect animatic. With this in mind, it almost feels like you are watching a behind the scenes video of a scene that will later come into being, with millions of dollars behind it making it look phenomenal on screens near you, coming this summer.
As it stands though, they aren't. And because of it, their intended effect comes off as a complete misfire. Cheap, awkward, and boring. Save yourself the money, true believer, and spend it wisely elsewhere; say, the original graphic novels in which these stories are based. You'll get a lot more satisfaction there than what you would be able to glean here.
Steve Russell // @stevetendo
Marvel Knights Collection is out now, courtesy of 101 Anime